How to Get Your Pet Certified As a Service Animal

By Molly Sawyer

Service animals are trained to assist disabled humans with everyday tasks. Certification or registration of service animals is not required or standardized. Some states have special registration or licensing systems for service animals. Certification is available for a fee from some private businesses. If the organization does not evaluate your pet in an objective way, the certification is usually not worth the price.

Determine your need for a service animal. You must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act’s definition of a disability: “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” To qualify as a service animal, your pet must be individually trained to perform tasks directly related to your disability.

Decide what tasks your service animal needs to perform. Tasks might include turning on lights, retrieving dropped objects, guiding the blind or alerting you to an impending seizure or drop in blood sugar. Tasks must assist you in your everyday life or mitigate the symptoms of your condition.

Train your service animal to perform those tasks. Organizations and trainers are available to train your pet for you, or you can choose to train your pet on your own. If you train your pet yourself, keep thorough records of each training session. Tracking your pet’s progress and consistency in responding to your commands will help you know when he’s ready to be evaluated.

If possible, have your animal tested and identified as a service animal. Some training facilities will test and certify animals they have not trained. Remember, certification of a service animal is not required, but can make it easier for you to bring your service animal into places where pets are not allowed.